Honestly, as I sit here and think there is this slow realization that many of my friends are going to be gone, and on with their lives. In some sense I am jealous of them, and jealous they are moving forward while I struggle to make it through to my calling… However, that jealousy is miniscule in comparison to the sadness but joy I feel for my friends. I am sad because most of them I will never see again. Many of them will go off to work and go on with lives that I will never be a part of except by Facebook. Some of them will last forever though. These friendships are the ones that formed deeply, and have changed both lives, and I feel as though I have sisters and brothers through these friendships. But I have deep joy for all my friends, friends who are starting the next chapter in their lives! I am excited to see what God will do through them all, and I know many of them will be successful in their calling.

But what is success? Is it that million dollar lifestyle of the rich and famous, or is it that life style that exudes worship? Our world today is driven by demand and instant gratification of all desires. Could it be that God has called each of to a success that worships God not things? Should we be getting the latest fashion trends or the newest technology? Is that the type of success we want or do we want to be living a lifestyle that helps change this world for the Kingdom? Does driving the latest car make you great? Or does living within your means make you greater yet? I wish to challenge my friends graduating, and the ones I am leaving behind, to see the world through the Gospel eyes.

Having recently only acquired this mindset, and it’s still a work in progress, I have come to understand that seeking the worldly goods is not necessarily a sign of inner well being. If you look at the Pharisees and Sadducees (so sad you’ll see) lifestyle during the time of Christ, they were all materialistic (even the people were), because they had come to associate Blessings with Wealth, and poverty with Sin. Although this is not true at all! You can be the richest of men and be the deepest of sinners.  Greediness has settled in the hearts of Christians today, and we see things as signs of blessings. But what is more important is that God is blessing us every day with the grace that we even exist today. These advancements only occur because Christ died at the Cross.  Judgment has been stayed so that we might live to see the return of Christ (or not because we might meet him sooner) but no matter the price we pay in the terms of worldly loss, we shall gain all the more in the kingdom if we are exalting God not things.

As graduating students, you will have loads of debt if not you, your parents. Fight the temptation to keep all your money to yourself, seek to honor God with your tithes. But there is a balance, do not bury yourself in a hole to the point you are in shackles over the debt. Set aside a monthly tithe portion of your income to give to God first. Then learn to live within your means…Living in your means you may not have the biggest house on the block. You may have to budget for food. You may have to cut down on the cellphones…it means taking Responsibility for your life and living at a sacrifice to God. If you are not already familiar with budgeting, you should take a lesson from someone who has and learn how to budget your incoming money. Be faithful in the little things, and God will make you greater. He will lift you up and provide your needs. My great friend Tiffany said this expression in one of our conversation, “Just remember the doves.” What does this mean? As she explained it, it means for us to not worry because God provides for the doves and birds of the field.  This is a direct thoughtful pondering on this Scripture: Matthew 6:25-34  (NKJV)

 “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

So as we head into the final weeks of the semester, I pray that all my friends will have peace and not worry about the future. But after they graduate, I ask for that same peace to fill their lives so that they can live God honoring lives, rather than materialistic lives. I pray that each of them finds their path, and follows God obediently down that road. Do not be caught up in the trap that the Devil has made so easy for us to talk walk down, which is the road of materialism. We are in a society that is racing for the next biggest thing, but we need to slow down and enjoy what is around us knowing that God provides all.